Vancouver Whitecaps FC are honoured to have Evelyn as Kid Captain of the club's home match against CF Montreal at Rio Tinto Stadium on May 8.
At first, there were little signs that something wasn’t quite right with two-year-old Evelyn. She stopped running and climbing on the playground—something she greatly enjoyed. She also grew increasingly lethargic.
Then one day, the formerly active girl couldn’t walk across the floor. It was as though Evelyn’s dad, Christopher, was seeing his daughter physically regress before his eyes.
“That’s when things really came to a head, and I knew something was wrong,” he said.
The family quickly went to the family doctor, then to the hospital in their hometown of Nelson, BC. Emergency physicians there made a phone call to BC Children’s Hospital, eight hours away, and then confirmed Evelyn’s diagnosis: Type 1 Diabetes.
The next several years were excruciatingly exhausting. Evelyn’s blood sugar levels could fluctuate unexpectedly without warning—and so throughout each night, her mother Crystal would check those levels every two hours. In those early days, in addition to regular visits with their local pediatrician, the family would also fly to BC Children’s from the Interior every three months to meet with a specialized health care team.
“It was a solid two or three years of chronic unrest. You never let your guard down; you never relax,” she said.
While Evelyn never complained about the constant needle pokes and monitoring, life was hard for the family. Sleepless nights, anxieties reinforced by sudden extreme blood sugar levels, and shouldering the care of their daughter alone became the norm.
And while technologies like an insulin pump and glucose monitor somewhat helped ease the day-to-day load of managing diabetes, the constant demands of the disease—and the intricate knowledge required to meet those demands—still limited their lives in many ways.
“There are just some situations we don’t even entertain, like sending Evelyn to a sleepover, or to an overnight camp, because there isn’t anyone there who can manage her diabetes without us there,” said Crystal. “It’s just not an option.”
She and her husband acknowledged that especially as Evelyn has begun school and is expanding her activities, if they had an entire village around them made up of people who knew how to help Evelyn, it would make a huge difference—not just in the activities Evelyn could enjoy, but even in the way she is growing up.
“For kids with diabetes, childhood can be extended,” said Crystal. “Mom and dad have always got to be there, and I feel like that if she could have experiences outside, away from us, she could grow more as a person.”
For this resilient family and others across BC, they hope for a day where they will have a village behind them, empowered to help, and help give their family every chance to thrive.